Important Things to Consider Before You Call the Police

January 16, 2021

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The police are there to help when you or someone else is in trouble. Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious whether you should call the cops or not. For example, you may hear yelling coming from next door, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbours are fighting. They could just be playing a loud game of charades!

Whether your initial reaction is always to call the police, or you never call the police and you sometimes regret your decision, it is important to consider these things before you pick up the phone.

Look for Destruction of Property

One sure sign that the cops should be called is if the destruction of property is present. If a window has been broken, an item has been stolen, or graffiti or writing has been permanently applied to a place where it doesn’t belong, it’s worth seriously thinking about calling the police.

You should also call the police if you get into an accident, even if it isn’t a very bad one. There are things you must do when you get into a car accident in order to make a claim with your insurance. It’s a lot easier to make sure you do those things if an officer is present, and it lends credence to your claim if a police officer made the report.

Know What Cops Consider Suspicious

It’s a good idea to give the police a call if you see something suspicious, but what is suspicious to you isn’t necessarily suspicious to someone else. That can cause some people to call the police when they shouldn’t, but it can also mean some people don’t call the police when they should have.

There are things police look for when determining reasonable suspicion. It can be helpful to know what cops consider suspicious before you make the call. If what you’re experiencing would be considered suspicious by a police officer, you can feel confident picking up the phone.

A few things police officers consider suspicious include:

  • Unusual noises, like screaming and fighting
  • Vehicles driving slowly and aimlessly through the neighbourhood
  • People peering into vehicles that aren’t theirs
  • Abandoned items in strange places
  • People who change their behaviour as soon as they realize you’re watching
Important Things to Consider Before You Call the Police

Examine the Assumptions You May Be Making

There are a lot of assumptions we make on a daily basis. Some of them are correct, and some of them are not. Most of the time, making the wrong assumption doesn’t end up being a big deal, like thinking you have enough time to make it somewhere, but then you end up being late. However, when it involves the police and another person, it’s important to examine your assumptions very carefully.

Just because a person has a scraggly beard and an old dirty coat doesn’t mean they are homeless, and just because someone has a different skin colour than you doesn’t mean they are up to no good when they’re walking down the street. Don’t let someone’s appearance be the reason why you the police. Look for real signs of a crime before you call.

Consider the Repercussions

It’s also a good idea to think about the repercussions of calling the police. Getting arrested can negatively affect a person’s life for many years to come. Is that really what you want for a person who owns a car without a license plate, for example?

You should consider the personal repercussions of calling as well. If you call the police for what turns out to be no reason, and especially if you do it more than once, the police won’t be in any rush to help if you call when there really is an emergency. 

Think of Other Ways to Handle the Situation

There are many situations where the police should definitely be called because intervening would be dangerous, but that’s not the case with every situation. There are many things you may be able to do instead of calling the cops when something isn’t right.

For example, if you get to know your neighbours, you can simply ask if everything is okay if you hear a loud noise or see a broken window. You may be able to post on a neighbourhood social media group to gather more information, or you can join the local neighbourhood watch association.

The police are an important resource in times of need, as long as their help is what you really do need. With the tips on this list, you can make sure you make the call for the right reasons.

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